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Brassicas in NorCal - when and how to start?

Posted by allhaileris 8b (14 sunset) (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 6, 12 at 12:50

I've been reading various postings related to brassicas, but I haven't seen anybody post who is in my climate, and I don't see the CA forum moving very quickly. I asked the same thing of my UC master gardeners a week ago and haven't gotten an email response :(

When do I plant cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts? And do I use seed or young plants?

I have an area that currently has dying pea plants and bolting lettuce that I'll pull out and use. This area gets shaded about half way through the day. In the fall it won't be so shaded because the leaves will have died, but that won't be until Oct I'd guess (new house, not totally sure). I also have a very small area near some onions that gets better light, but I probably only have room for maybe two plants there.

I thought I read that they don't need a lot of sun (or is it heat) as young plants. Any advice you can give me would be great.


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RE: Brassicas in NorCal - when and how to start?

Not sure where you are in Northern California. The climate varies significantly depending on your microclimate. I'm in the Sonoma County valley where I get cool nights and fog but days can get hot. I plant broccoli and cabbage around mid-February. It lasts me through June. It would last longer but by then, aphids and caterpillars are starting to take over the plants, and I'd rather just pull them than start spraying.

I start mine from seed that I start indoors at New Years. They're usually ready to transplant in 30-45 days.

I've also had luck planting a subsequent batch in the fall. In my experience, I need to get them planted by 9/1 or the plants will sit there and overwinter. If I get them in on or before 9/1, I'll get a fall harvest, though not as abundant as my early spring.


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RE: Brassicas in NorCal - when and how to start?

I'm your neighbor in Napa, so very close climate (I think Sonoma has a little more breeze and fog). When you say 9/1, do you mean seeds or plants?

I don't really have a space to put seedlings, but I was reading somebody else's post and they said they put them on their front porch, and that's an actual option for me, mostly shady, gets morning light but would stay cool all day, I'd walk by them a couple times a day and could easily bring them inside if I needed to. I can put them in more sun if they need it. So if I start from seed, would that work? Does the soil just need to be warm and moist to start and then plant them as soon as they're established?

And lets say I get seeds, are there any strains that are better than others? I've only bought from the local nursery, but they only had cauliflower and no brussels or savoy cabbage, so I need to order online. When I looked online there were quite a few types. I like basic white cauliflower, hate broccoli. I have only learned to like brussles if I sautee them in olive oil and parmesean (shredded brussels even better so they don't overcook). I know I want savoy cabbage, I like the less firm texture and use it in cole slaw mostly.


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